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Can I talk to somebody, please?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) are inextricably linked to customer care services, nowadays. These technologies no longer only tell you to “press 1… for an address change, 2 .. for enquires about billing..” They have become more mature and offer a good alternative to efficiently handle common issues, such as address changes and return orders.

AI in customer care

Yet when it comes to more complex matters, we still like to talk to somebody on the phone. Somebody patient, who listens and understands why you want to throw your television out of the window after hours of trying to connect your game console and wireless speaker. Someone who helps you until it is fixed and leaves you satisfied with the awesome stuff you bought!

Win-win for customer and company

Both human and automated customer care play an important role in creating customer satisfaction. Today’s customers have high expectations. As a company, you need to apply the available tools at the right time for seamless customer experience.

When implemented correctly, AI-based technologies prove very helpful. Customers no longer need to wait for an agent to be available, while listening to Für Elise for the 5th time, just to report their new address. They do not need to spell their name and address when these can be either typed into the chatbot or picked up by voice recognition in combination with database checking in the background. This saves a lot of time and annoyance on the customer’s side, while for a company it saves time and money when basic questions and information requests are automated. A win-win, both in customer satisfaction and efficiency.

However, these technologies have their limitations. While customer questions become more predictable using big data, chatbots and Virtual Customer Agents, can these compete with a human agent when it comes to personal attention?

The indispensable human touch

The world around us is getting more complex. The services and products we use to ease our lives generally come with a ‘quick set-up guide’ to help us reap its benefits instantly. So far so good when guiding us through the ‘happy flow’. However, when things are slightly more special or custom, picking up the phone is just the quickest route to resolution. For questions that require some explanation and/or context before the right answer or solution can be provided, interacting with someone over the phone is the simplest and easiest way to get things done. And while on the phone, there is that indispensable ‘human touch’ to effectively anticipate the customer’s tone-of-voice.

More complicated requests

To deal with more complicated requests, the agent will need to have a higher skill set and be better trained for the job. They will need to be emphatic, patient and understanding and at the same time knowledgeable, firm in solving the problem and empowered to make decisions. Their goal will be to turn every caller into a happy customer. If they succeed, these calls will be golden opportunities to create a higher NPS.

Seamless interaction

Only a seamless interaction between automation and human interaction can make such customer support successful. The chatbot or virtual agent must be able to recognize when a call needs to be passed on to an agent. The gathered information will have to be available to the agent instantly so he can turn the conversation into a meaningful and rewarding interaction. Handling time for these calls is less important. They may even take as long as needed to solve the issue and turn the caller into a satisfied customer. The time invested will yield its money in customer satisfaction (and brand preference).

Are you prepared for the digital era?

Combining modern technology with traditional human interaction meets the high expectations of the current generation. Customers expect to quickly solve simple issues and speak to a representative for better service or more complex matters. Therefore high quality and comprehensive telephone customer support will remain indispensable. Every interaction by telephone is a golden opportunity to create the ultimate customer experience. The question is: can you deliver?

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